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Therese Henningsen and Juliette Joffé

Still from Next Year We Will Leave (2021) by Juliette Joffé

A conversation between Therese Henningsen and Juliette Joffé reflecting on the ongoing curatorial project Strangers Within and the notion of “documentary as encounter” in their own films Next Year We Will Leave (2021) and Slow Delay (2018).

The two films will be made available to watch on the January 2022 Techne congress at Kingston University. They will also be publicly shown for the Strangers Within anthology launch and film programme at Whitechapel Gallery in June 2022 in collaboration with Prototype.

Contributors to the Strangers Within anthology and film programme are: Khalik Allah, Ruth Beckermann, Jon Bang Carlsen, Adam Christensen, Annie Ernaux, Gareth Evans, Xiaolu Guo, Therese Henningsen, Marc Isaacs, Juliette Joffé, David MacDougall, Laura Rascaroli, Bruno de Wachter, Yuya Yokota, Andrea Luka Zimmerman

Still from Slow Delay (2018) by Therese Henningsen

Strangers Within addresses convergences between encounter, hospitality and autobiography in documentary filmmaking. It engages with the risks of encounter, unsettling assumed distinctions between host and guest; stranger and friend; self and other; documentarian and protagonist. By challenging commonly held assumptions around the division between director and subject in the documentary encounter, it unsettles the filmmaker’s presumed control over those she films. By staying with the difficulty of such encounters the camera can keep us open to risks that may otherwise be avoided or ignored: seeing oneself in strangers or becoming a stranger to oneself.

Still from Slow Delay (2018)

Slow Delay, Therese Henningsen, 2018, 17 mins

“You’ve got something I want, and I’ve got
something you want,” he said. Twins Trevor and
Raymond have lived together in New Cross for fifty
years. They opened up their home to me after I
approached them on a bus asking to film them.

Still from Next Year We Will Leave (2021)

Next Year We Will Leave, Juliette Joffé, 2021, 47 mins

Guided by a sentence from my childhood I encounter three people in Paris: A collector of lost objects, a princess in Disneyland and a coffee seller who has never left her shop. A reconciliation with my hometown through a dialogue with strangers. The first person narrative echoes the stories of those filmed questioning the possibilities of the documentary encounter.

It was no good looking for the pieces because then I would be selecting them according to an anticipation of something and eliminating those which did not conform… From the Notebooks of Maya Deren

It seems to me that I should depart from situations which profoundly affected me, and as I would with a knife, it is always this image that comes to my mind, dig, widen the scar out of me (…) It is not because things have happened to me that I write them, it is because they happened and therefore are not unique. Annie Ernaux, Writing Sharp as a Knife

We came from widely different places from all over the planet. Yet we mirrored each other almost like brothers and sisters. The more faces my camera brought into focus, the more brothers and sisters I got. All of them each in their ways, showing me new ways out of my Danish village. Jon Bang Carlsen

Recommended reading:

Towards A Transpersonal I by Annie Ernaux

Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, excerpt here

Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran by Gohar Homayounpour

About Therese Henningsen

Therese Henningsen is a filmmaker and programmer based in London. Her filmmaking often takes shape through the encounter with the person(s) filmed and the direction this may take. Her films have been shown at Whitechapel Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery, Whitstable Biennale, Close-Up Cinema, SMK Statens Museum for Kunst, among others. She is a member of the two film collectives Sharna Pax and Terrassen, both engaging with the social life of film. She collaborates on ongoing film and research projects with artists and filmmakers Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Sidsel Meineche Hansen and Juliette Joffé. Therese came to filmmaking through anthropology and holds an MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College. She is currently working on a practice-led PhD in Media Arts at Royal Holloway University, and teaches on the MA Documentary and Ethnographic Film at UCL.

About Juliette Joffé

Juliette Joffé is a filmmaker based in Brussels. Her films have been shown in festivals such as Visions Du Réel Nyon , FIDMarseille, Open City Documentary Film Festival, Astra Film Festival among others. Her first film Maybe Darkness was awarded a Wildcard For Best Documentary by The Flemish Film Board allowing her to direct The Hero With A Thousand Faces which won Best Short Film Film at Mostra Internazionale Di Cinema Di Genova. She has recently finished the mid-length essay film Next year, we will leave. She runs the documentary course in Brussels- based art school Preparts. As part of her programming practice, she was invited to introduce the work of Belgian filmmaker Olivier Smolders at Open City Documentary Film Festival 2017..

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